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Can vending machines take away market share from the quick-service segment? Not only do some experts think it's possible, others wonder if it's already happening. The vending sector was deeply affected by the recession, but it seems to be making a comeback thanks to a confluence of trends. For example, vending manufacturers have added unique technology to machines that has driven intrigue and improved food quality, and consumers like the idea of bypassing restaurant lines for the sake of speed and convenience.
According to Elliot Maras, editor of Automatic Merchandiser Magazine, some technology innovations in vending include remote machine monitoring, cashless payment, mobile phone payment, mobile media marketing and micro markets. The item level tracking capabilities which allow remote machine monitoring also allow category management in vending. He adds that the demand for vending has grown because people want to consume food at their convenience. QSRs and convenience stores specifically have conditioned consumers for this on-demand trend. The biggest obstacle vending faces is the economics of the expensive and complex machines, particularly during the down economy.
"Demand for healthy snacks, drinks and coffee is growing. People want great choices in vending where they work, live and lay, and we provide them with that opportunity," he said. "It is a very exciting time in healthy vending."